Numblast Review—An Angel, a Monkey, and a Hall Monitor Walk into a PSM Game

numblasttitle

A surprisingly large number of PlayStation Mobile titles have been ports from various places. Numblast is one of those ports, originally being a puzzle game from Sony Japan released in 2009 for both the PS3 and PSP. I haven’t played either of those, but I’m guessing this uses assets from the PS3 version, as the graphics take full advantage of the Vita’s screen resolution.

Numblast is a relatively simple game. There is an 8×8 grid of blocks, each block having a number on it. The goal is to match numbers so that a 2×2 square all has the same number. This is done by rotating blocks (in a 2×2 grid chosen by a cursor) either clockwise or counterclockwise. When you’ve matched up numbers, they explode after a short delay. It’s almost too simple, but there are some nuances to the game like how matched blocks change their number after you’ve matched them, potentially letting you make chains.

Picture credit - <i>oblivion from aoc</i>  on GameFAQs” title=”numblast2″ width=”570″ height=”323″ class=”size-full wp-image-9883″ /><p class=Picture credit - oblivion from aoc on GameFAQs

For some reason, while you play, a monkey with a neck ruff and an angel with an astrolabe cavort and caper on each side of the screen. The monkey gets really angry at you sometimes, shaking his fist, and then sometimes he shakes another part of his body at you. The game gives no explanation of just who these two are, so it’s more than a little bizarre. Presumably there was some sort of back story in the original versions of the game that is omitted here.

There are three game modes. Endless, timed, and puzzle. Endless is not literally endless; you keep playing until you can no longer move. The hazard here is that blocks eventually change colors to black, and you can’t rotate black blocks. So you have fewer and fewer possible moves until you finally run out. Unless you try to fail, games will run about 15 minutes. Timed is similar. You simply play for three minutes, and then your score is evaluated by some sort of a hall monitor.

Although using the same basic principles, puzzle mode is different from endless or timed, though similar to puzzle modes in most puzzle games. You are given a board with blocks arranged in a pattern, with the goal of removing all the blocks on the board in a certain amount of moves.

I ordinarily quite enjoy puzzle modes in games like this, but here it was hurt by the extremely long loading time, 10-11 seconds between the puzzle selection menu and the puzzle itself. What’s worse, if you lose the puzzle, there is no automatic retry. You go back to the main menu. You can manually restart the puzzle if it’s obvious you have not solved it. On the bright side, there are a number of puzzles unlocked, so if you can’t figure out one, you have plenty of others to try. There are a lot of puzzles, too.

Graphically the game looks sharp on the Vita, but at the same time, the color choice is very subdued, almost somber. The backgrounds are brown and yellow like an old faded photograph, and while the blocks are colored, they are flat. About the only vivid colors are from one of the stained glass windows that make up the background. The music is somewhat somber at the menu, but while playing goes into a Tetris-sounding theme.

Although a PlayStation Mobile game, it clearly seems aimed for the Vita, as you play it completely with buttons. Personally I like this (as I like buttons and only own a Vita among PSM devices), but at the same time, I think PSM games should really offer both options.

Puzzle Mode

Puzzle Mode

Ultimately, puzzle games come down to just how fun the core mechanic is. I just didn’t find Numblast’s number matching to be all that fun. It simply felt more like busy work, a chore to play. Enough thinking is required to not be easy, yet not enough to be an enjoyable challenge. More like office work. If you are one of those people that like office work, well, I guess you might enjoy this. Still, the slow loading times and the sparse and dull presentation make this a mediocre effort.

6/10

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Comments

3 Responses to “Numblast Review—An Angel, a Monkey, and a Hall Monitor Walk into a PSM Game”
  1. JeremyR says:

    And yes, I used the Oxford comma in my title.

  2. Granpire says:

    I like the serial comma, myself. :)

  3. onmode-ky says:

    We’re all on the same side, then. :) Jasper is not, though. At any rate, I leave it up to the authors.

    I think PSM games should really offer both options.

    Perhaps games can detect the hardware they’re running on and switch control types accordingly? Maybe the game does use touch controls on buttonless PSM devices.

    then sometimes he shakes another part of his body at you

    Huh, so it’s an M-rated game, I see.

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